ORLANDO – Technology has dramatically changed the way so many businesses operate, giving companies access to an amazing amount of readily available information, more than ever before.
But sometimes that information overload becomes a challenge for businesses. The technology is there, but how to take full advantage of it is the bigger question.
“I remember 15 years ago, nobody had email,” said Christine C. Crew. “Now everybody has emails.”
Not every company devotes the time and manpower to keeping up with advancing technology, and not every firm can fully comprehend the opportunities it can present to them. But Crews and Rita K. Manny do, which is why their company, Employers Association Forum, Inc., has spent the past 30 years working with businesses and human resource professionals, offering them a wide variety of services and member benefits — including the direct links to the information they need to remain competitive.
“We’re set up to respond to corporate needs,” said Manny, EAF’s president, and Crews, the vice president of human resource services.
EAF starts by getting to know the company and the people who work there.
“We really want to know who they are, who their team is,” Crews said. “That really helps us respond to their questions.”
Based at 1200 W. State Road 434, Suite 206 in Longwood, Employers Association Forum is a non-profit corporate membership-based association, currently serving nearly 1,500 business and human resouce professionals in 24 states. This is an industry that doesn’t often get much attention, but can play a critical role in helping companies grow, meet the needs of its workers, and abide by state and federal employment laws.
“Employers pay annual dues to us, and we’re fully the help desk,” Manny said. “We’re the phone call where they can call us and we help them.”
As Manny noted, businesses can face an information overload as, for example, state and federal wage and employment laws change. To help guide the companies to the information the need, EAF provides online publications that include a Florida Wage and Salary Survey, Pay Trends Surveys, HR Records, Reports and Retention Guides, Policies and Benefits Surveys, and so on.
They can cover the technology aspects of payroll systems, offer consulting services that includes recruiting and talent management, performance management, and organizational development, and training and networking services that include HR briefings, roundtables and webinars, onsite training and hotlines that provide information on human resources, legal issues, safety compliance, and even cyber security crisis management.
“For our employers, we provide a lot of publications, and we have online webinars,” Manny said. “This morning we did one on effective communications.”
Employer associations serve businesses that want to maximize job performance, and need research done. Every employer has different issues that require some outside guidance and expertise, whether its wage laws, Affirmative Action rules, data management, benefits packages, and labor relations. These matters have become vital to the successful operation of a business in what remains a challenging economic climate.
EAF was started 30 years ago in Florida, but today, the association attracts clients from half of the states.
“We’ve started seeing more employers from out of state who found out about us and wanted to learn more about us,” Manny said. “We’re actively promoting and marketing our services in those areas, and we do have employers now in 24 states.”
Crews said as businesses try to promote their own products and services, their human resource departments often call them looking for answers — and resources.
“They’re typically looking for wage survey data, benefit survey data, information on employment laws, how to handle employee relations issues,” she said, adding that in some cases, employers are nervous about the potential for costly legal action and want to know how to prevent it from getting to that stage.
The information and research that EAF provides can help prevent that firm from heading down that path.
“We try to catch them before it gets to the lawsuit stage,” Crews said. “We try to educate the company that, ‘This is a better course of action.’ “
“In some cases, it’s not a matter of if you’re going to be sued under employment labor laws, it’s when,” Manny added. “We will guide you into what the law is.”
The members of the association are not always start-up companies unfamiliar with business laws, Crews added. Large, well established companies can also need assistance in areas beyond their scope.
“Some have been around forever,” she said. “Most of our employers are established.”
“Most of our members actually are above 50 employees,” Manny said. “We have some in the five and six employee range, but predominantly we look at the legal issues starting at companies with 15 employees or more.”
As technology has advanced, so has what EAF provides.
“I think technology has changed the way we communicate and provide service,” Crews said.
“Consider how we deliver training,” Manny said. “We still have classroom training. We go on site anywhere and train on a company’s facility.”
But they can also provide training sessions through Skype, the software application that allows users to make voice and video calls and chats over the Internet.
“People can call us and we’re going to have face to face communication by phone,” Manny said. “With video conferencing, a lot of the training right now is online.”
That’s the key to EAF’s success: linking businesses to the specific material they need.
“I think what we’re providing to them is that conduit to information,” Crews said. “When you have supervisors, managers, HR folks who are so overwhelmed, we can come in and do some of that research, and locate information that they need.”
In effect, EAF provides on-demand expertise, recognizing it’s impossible for every employer to know everything.
”Our big goal under our mission is to ultimately help the employer, the HR professional, truly align with business goals, providing them with training programs and resources to be more strategic,” Manny said. “We align human capital with business goals.”
To learn more about EAF, call 407-260-6556, log on to www.eafinc.org, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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